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Myths undecorated

In my more recent episode summaries for MythBusters, I have been using screenshots from the episodes as I felt that they conveyed some of the mythbusting better than text. I did so believing this is fair use, as they were merely screenshots and not actual video clips, they were of low quality, and in no way did they devalue the original material. Apparently the Discovery Channel does not agree.

They state that I am using Discovery Channel's copyrighted material and, oddly, Discovery Channel's logo (do they mean their own logo they place in the bottom right corner of every episode?), and they are concerned that somehow someone will mistake for a Discovery affiliated or sponsored site. This is probably a form letter and, as such, I can only expect a form response to any further inquiry. In the mean time, I have disabled the images in the links so you will see many, many broken image links. It will take quite awhile for me to fully purge the entries of these images.

I'm saddened as I feel that this was a fair, legitimate, and appropriate way in which to document MythBusters episodes. I also feel we live in a very bogus era of copyright enforcement where any weak argument can be used to effectively deter legal uses of material.

Comments (10)

M Author Profile Page:

I think you're safely within the bounds of fair use.

I quote the following from The copyright office (

The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author's observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.”

Copyright protects the particular way an author has expressed himself; it does not extend to any ideas, systems, or factual information conveyed in the work.


I still believe it's fair use, but I'm not ready to argue with lawyers at this point over screenshots.

bp Author Profile Page:

Perhaps you might contact one of the various copyfighting organizations, and see if they'd be able to help? EFF, perhaps, off the top of my head.


Yeah, it's fair use, but there's some paranoic tendency to push legal action against fair use in the context of critical analysis.

Because, you know, the reviews weren't supporting the Mythbusters fan base or anything. Foolish.

Please don't give in. This is exactly the kind of errosion of fair use that the media conglomerates want. They send take down notices to everyone they can knowing that most people will roll over.


pqbon - it's not my desire to give in and I will use every avenue available to me not to, but without legal resources those avenues are less. I don't wish to be complicit in this era of copyright redefinition where fair use is being eroded, but I also have to fight within my means.

I have sent a reply to the lawyer which I believe is reasonable. I have no desire to have the appearance of affiliation with the Discovery Channel, unless someone on the road wishes to mistake me for a member of their cycling team. I am hoping that there will be some reasonable compromise in which I make it very clear that this site is very unofficial, but optimism is not easy in light of how easy these notices are to send out.

You might want to take a look at, which is a joint project of EFF and a few law schools. They have information regarding online rights as well as a collection of cease and desist letters which have been sent out to internet users. Perhaps they might be of help. Good luck!


Your fair use is stopped by the cost of the potential legal defense. That hardly seems a fair action by Discovery Channel. Time to boycott Team DSC?


Movie reviewers use clips from the context of reviewing a copyrighted work, you have strong protection.


You should post the exact form letter, in order to shame them for this action.

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